Rev. W. Whistler (1747-1832)
The Rev. Webster Whistler was born at Stowood near Oxford in 1747, and took his B. A. Degree at Cambridge University. Becoming incumbent at Newtimber in Sussex in 1774, he went on to become the Chaplain to the Earl of Harrowby four years later, then succeeded the Rev. W. Coppard to become the rector of Hastings, whilst still holding the same position at Newtimber. During 1810 on August 6th or 7th, he attended the consecration, by the Bishop, of a piece of ground, 40 yards square, at Halton, for the burial of soldiers who died at the Hastings barracks and officiated over the funeral of Edward Milward in the following year. Over the next decade, he married many note-worthy individuals associated with the town's history, including that of the Lansdell/Breeds and Milward/Whitear families. In total he and his wife had ten children over the space of some 48 years.
1826 was altogether an important year to Mr. Whistler. On the 29th of August he was censured by the Corporation in a printed reply, for having announced to his congregation that although it was his wish to have both All Saints Church and St Clements Church open at that crowded season, it was discouraged by the Corporation and principal inhabitants, and as the small value of the living for which Queen Anne's bounty was obtained a few years before would not allow him to do it, it must depend on the contributions of the congregation themselves. In the counter statement of the Corporation it was shown that in 1822, £120 was subscribed by the principal inhabitants, irrespective of his own collections, specially for a curate, so that both churches might be opened twice each Sunday, Mr. Whistler himself giving a solemn pledge that the whole of such money should go to the curate. A further subscription was entered into, but as the rector had withheld a portion of the money, the subscribers declined to continue their contributions. After that, several clergymen offered their gratuitous services, which were sanctioned by the Bishop, who was then at Hastings, and these were actually commenced, but after the Bishop's departure, the services were objected to by Mr. Whistler, he contending that one service in each church was sufficient.
Died on Friday, the 2nd of March, 1832 at the age of 85, after active duties as Rector of Newtimber for 57 years and of Hastings conjointly, for 28 years. He had expressed a wish, in 1831, to see the borough thrown open by an extended franchise, and he died on the day that guns were fired from the Castle in consequence of the receipt of false news that the Reform Bill had passed. His remains were preceded to the grave by those of Mrs. North (grandmother of Mr. Frederick North), who died on January 19th, at the age of 80, and by those of Miss Maria Milward, who died in the first week of February, at the age of 77.